It’s almost the end of January, the first month of our new year. Here in France we have until the very end of January to wish everyone we know a very happy and blessed new year. How has your year started?
For me, one of the highlights is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is a time when all the Christian denominations, particularly here in Lille, get together and work together even more than we do throughout the rest of the year. Each time, we try to do things slightly differently: this year we opened the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a concert which saw nine different denominations participating with songs from their own tradition. And this was held in the Chapel of the Catholic University. Each church has invited those present at the concert to come and join them for worship if they would like to.
This year we were asked to prepare a short reflection for the local Christian radio, RCF. Each of us took a phrase from the text chosen for this year from Luke’s Gospel about the Good Samaritan and these were broadcast each day. The Christian Radio RCF also came to each of our churches to record a short interview, which was also broadcast.
Window in Christ Church Lille
As I write, on Saturday 27 January, the week of prayer for Christian unity draws to a close. But this morning, I’m welcoming two of my ecumenical colleagues, Pastor Jan Albert from the Protestant church EPUdF and Father Aimilianos from the Greek Orthodox Church to brunch at my house. Finally this evening, all the churches will meet together at the Protestant church in Rue Jeanne d’Arc, not far from our church, for the closing service marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
It often seems that at Christ Church we live the week of prayer for Christian unity constantly. We come from so many denominations, so many different countries. And yet here again, as with my official ecumenical colleagues, what really matters is the absolute basis of our faith and trust in our living God. Most of our differences, although not all, come from the way we do things, the way we worship, the way we think, our different cultures and languages. But at the base, we are united always through our faith in God.
27 January 2024